Algerian president to appoint committee to draft constitution amendments
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced on Monday that a committee in charge of drawing up a draft revision of the constitution is due to be established, official news agency APS reported.
This committee will hold consultations with political parties and figures to gather views and proposals on all of the announced reforms in the North African country.
In his inaugural speech at the Council of Ministers meeting held on Monday, Bouteflika said “Concerning the draft revision of the constitution, I’m due to assign a competent committee to be in charge of this mission, while political parties and personalities can submit their propositions and contributions on the matter to this committee.”
Once it achieves its work, the committee will present to the president the draft constitutional revision, and a final version will be submitted to the parliament, Bouteflika said.
“In case the draft carries deep amendments, it will be referred to popular referendum to decide on, in addition to being submitted to the parliament,” he specified.
However, the amendments should by no means touch fundamental foundations of the state, including Republicanism, the democratic system based on multipartism, Islam, Arabic Language, civil rights, the unity of the territories, as well as the national flag and the hymn, he added.
Bouteflika has also mentioned that the aforementioned committee will be chaired by a national personality, who is due to hold meetings with political parties and figures to obtain views and proposals on the package of reforms announced including the next revision of the constitution.
“Political parties and national figures will be widely consulted on all political reforms to promote … meetings will soon be initiated under the supervision of a national personality, ” he said.
“These political consultations will include the opportunity to gather views and proposals of parties and personalities on all of the announced reforms, including the next revision of the constitution,” he added.
Bouteflika has appointed Abdelkader Bensalah, speaker of the Nation Council (Senate), to conduct consultations with political parties and national figures, APS reported later Monday.
The president also assigned the government to undertake, in consultation with the press representatives, the elaboration of draft organic law on information, on the eve of celebrations of the World Freedom of Press Day.
“Besides the bill on the decriminalization of press offence that we will examine today (Monday), the government is responsible, in consultation with the representatives of the press, to institute the draft organic law on information,” he said.
“We will work to modernize the national media space to raise the level of our democratic pluralism and ambitions of our people and to strengthen the professionalism and ethics,” Bouteflika concluded.
The Algerian Council of Ministers meeting also approved a draft amendment lifting the jail of journalists, who are to be tolerated to criticize all official institutions, including the president.
The draft amendment to the Penal Code concerning the decriminalization of press offenses proposes the deletion of the imprisonment sentence, leaving only the penalty of fines, in Article 144 bis on the offense against the head of state. The deletion of the prison sentence is also proposed in Article 146 relating to contempt, insult and defamation against the parliament, the courts, the National Popular Army, a body corporate and any other public institution.
Bouteflika said in a televised speech last month that the country will carry out a legislative reform that includes the revision of the constitution and the election law.
Algeria will launch political reforms after it has sustained peace and security, issued a development program and ended the state of emergency, he added.
Algeria’s major political parties, social organizations and politicians expressed on several occasions their desire to make comprehensive and profound political reforms. However, their views differed in regards of the specific measures of the reform.
In recent weeks, the country’s key political figures have made statements on reforms and policy changes in the context of a series of social protests in Algeria and political upheavals in the Arab world.